Hospital bounces back quickly after fire

Published 1:58 pm Tuesday, September 3, 2013


An “amazing” response to Thursday evening’s fire at Borgess-Lee Memorial Hospital’s Comstock building “minimized” any negative impact.

Outpatient Rehabilitation (physical and occupational therapy) resumed normal operations Tuesday morning, missing only Friday, according to Chief Operating Officer John Ryder.

Capt. Mike Mattix of Dowagiac Fire Department listed the blaze as accidental, cause undetermined.

“The fire’s impact is being minimized due to the support of hospital associates, community leaders, local fire and police services, city management, Ascension Health, Borgess Health and various vendors,” Ryder said.

Ryder said Outpatient Rehabilitation was approved to reoccupy its space. There was no fire damage in this portion of the building, which has its own separate utility, heating and cooling systems.

“This means the department will only have been closed for one business day,” Ryder said. “The full range of rehabilitation services is available as of Tuesday morning.”

The west side of the building, which housed finance, accounting and billing offices, remains closed and is not approved for occupancy.

Damage assessment and estimates to repair or replace the space are in progress.

“We expect the functions from these areas to be back near full operation as soon as Wednesday,” Ryder said. “The longer-term disposition of that portion of the building is under evaluation pending more detailed damage estimates and a weighing of options.”


Several areas within the hospital closest to the Comstock building were affected by smoke or odor and received extra cleaning, air filtration or both.

Records stored in the basement of the Comstock building were moved through HIPAA-compliant procedures to an offsite storage facility.

Consultations were provided from Borgess and Ascension Health Risk Management; Borgess senior leadership and corporate services; and internal environment of care and life safety experts within the Borgess system.

“Most importantly,” Ryder said, “I want to repeat there were no injuries related to this event. I also cannot emphasize enough the outstanding support of the City of Dowagiac and local fire and police services. Finally, it also must be reiterated that the associates of Borgess-Lee Memorial Hospital in all areas have been amazing and really pulled together to respond to this event.”